Monday, August 31, 2009

A Gorgeous Weekend

We had such a lovely weekend - time with friends, time at the beach (twice!), time for the bikers to bike, time for the kayakers to kayak, fishing time, reading time, swimming time, knitting time, a bit of garage sale time and lots of yummy local, fresh food as well.  I feel very blessed to live the life I live.

The loons decided not to cooperate with me when it came to picture taking but this guy did.
A great cast.
The boys had fun watching a whole load of these little guys hopping and swimming about.
A favourite quick lunch for in between kayaking up in the mountain lake and heading down to the beach in town - round multi-grain flatbreads with a slice of cheese and a slice of beefsteak tomato toasted under the broiler.  Delicious.
And because we know some generous gardeners...
Every lunch and dinner these days comes served with fresh tomatoes. ;-)
Herbed polenta topped with sauteed zucchini, mushroom and garlic (with loads of herbs) and then sprinkled with Romano cheese.
And probably also with cucumber - these ones are sliced and then mixed with a dollop of mayo, a sprinkle of salt and lots of dill.
In one of the books I am reading the author writes that she saw a book titled Paint What You Want to See and how she thought that would make a great life philosophy...I think so too and that is very much how we choose to live our lives.  This weekend was all about painting what we wanted to see and enjoying every minute of it.  Hope you had a wonderful weekend too.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Stinky Cheese Man

My boys LOVED this book and so I thought I would mention it here in case you've never heard of it (I hadn't until I saw it at our library and knew, by the title, that my boys would like it).  According to all the males in my family it is a must read.  The sort of book that one can barely wait to get home from the library to start reading and, once reading, one can not be induced to get off the couch to help the mama with anything at all until one is finished reading it at least once, even if the mama wants help unloading the groceries.  The sort of book that, said mama wanting help really cannot get too annoyed about not getting any unloading of groceries help because she keeps hearing gales of giggles from the direction of the couch and she does so love the sound of giggles.  So...The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid've been warned. ;-)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Peach Streusel Picnic Cake

Yesterday I made this Peach Streusel Picnic Cake recipe from my favourite Canadian Living Cookbook.  We didn't take it on a picnic but we did share it with friends and it sure was delicious.  I love the taste of fresh lemon zest in baking (especially combined with the taste of real butter and fresh, sweet peaches).  I used walnuts instead of pecans because we still have bags full of them from our old walnut trees.
When we moved a few months ago I was packing up my coldroom and decided that I wouldn't do very much canning this year because I wanted to use up every bit of the canning we have before we move again next year. 
 Last week we got 30 pounds of fresh peaches and I said to E that we might have to preserve some.  He said it would be better to eat them all fresh because they were tastiest that way and it was less work!!  Of course, I thought the less work part was brilliant and decided we would indeed eat them all fresh but yesterday I started leaning towards the idea of making a small batch of peach butter. We'll see but I did manage to use up 6 or 7 peaches on this cake (instead of the 3 or 4 it calls for) and have plans to make peach pie this weekend.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Good things

The most gorgeous bouquet of sweet peas picked from a generous friend's garden while enjoying a wonderful day full of visiting, canning, baby cuddles and (best of all!) talking, talking, talking with a like-minded soul-sister.

Sweet tomatoes made into...

which we all eat up as fast as we can make them.
Fresh basil from the garden and walnuts from our old tree for making delicious pesto.

Gorgeous peaches a friend picked up for me.

Herbal iced tea with lemon to share with friends for a movie night (Shirley Valentine - one worth watching at least once!).

Hundreds of these butterflies hanging out on the bank under the deck this summer.  Lovely to watch.

Life is good!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Living, Learning and Loving

I recently found out about a wonderful little gem of a book written by Leo Buscaglia. I was reading Personhood: The Art of Being Fully Human and was reminded just how much I love Leo Buscaglia's writing, I decided to see if he had some other books I hadn't yet read and came across The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages.
This is such a good read and it really is good for any ages. E isn't feeling well so yesterday we sat out on the deck, cuddled up and read this book and then had a good chat about life and Leo. I love reading his books because I feel his light-hearted, open-minded spirit just pours out of the pages of his writing. I find him to be very inspiring (in his encouragement to people to take responsibility to live your own best life) and I wanted to share some of that with E.
I first came across his writing when I read Living, Learning and Loving (which you will notice is one of the labels on this blog and how I prefer to refer to our way of learning). I saw the spine of this book on a table at a library sale and thought - Living, Learning and Loving?!? That's what we do!! (and then, of course, I wrote a blathering post about it) ;-) Since then I've been enjoying his work.
On the end pages of Freddie the Leaf there is a quote that was found on Leo's typewriter the day after he died. It reads, " Every moment spent in unhappiness is a moment of happiness lost." I love the simplicity and the clarity of that thought and I think he was a very wise man, indeed.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summer pleasures

A beautiful mint from a friend so I can make my cuppa tea. ;-)
Some Rudbeckia I brought from my old gardens.
One of the (lonely) three (!?!?!) plants already here when we moved in
Lettuce, spinach and tomatoes from my garden for a summer salad.
Goodness from someone else's garden.

A simple salad to go with our dinner.
A new (to us) recipe for macaroni and cauliflower cheese bake from Jamie's Food Revolution. We had it unbaked last night (too hot to use the oven) but it was so delicious that we'll add it to our favourite recipes and try it baked in the wintertime (with a squash and a fruit crisp in the oven at the same time).

Sunshine, beaches, fresh veggies, colourful blooms - summertime is lovely, we're going to savour every moment of it left.

Monday, August 17, 2009

To "the lake"

The boys and I have just returned from "the lake". This is the lake where I have gone for summer holiday since I was about 2 years old. We used to camp there with all our family - aunts, uncles, cousins, friends - each summer for three weeks, now my folks live there year round so we can visit whenever we like. Back in my younger years my uncle would tie a long rope to the canoe so my cousin and I couldn't go too far out, these days I don't need a rope and I prefer a kayak to a canoe. Happily I can usually manage to convince at least a few people to go for a paddle with me. ;-0

I love going here and can't imagine my summer without it, neither can my boys since it has always been a part of their lives. Here they do all sorts of things they don't normally do at home - ride old bikes with Grampa, shoot a BB gun with Gramma, make a zipline, take part in the annual Rummoli tournament put on by my Aunt, ride a BBQ cart and eat some form of sugar they wouldn't have at home. ;-)

There is beach time but we live in an area of beautiful beaches so that isn't the main draw. Time with family and friends is the best part...well, that and my favourite thrift store. It has become an annual tradition to go to this thrift store on the lake. We love it and quite often come away with a garbage bag full of goodies for a very small price.

A new skirt - love the pattern and the colours $2.

An apron which I've already put to good use today making our favourite pumpkin muffins.

Two matching sets of vintage sheets with pillow cases. I've been on the lookout for vintage sheets or other goodies for a friend (as well as more pillow cases for myself) but when I found these matching sets in such good shape I couldn't bear the thought of them being cut up. I'm sure they've been tucked in someone's cabin and only used once a year (at the most) since they were new. I immediately thought of a lovely mama I know (fellow lover of older things) with two delightful little girls and could just picture these in their room one day.I also got this curtain because I couldn't resist the pattern. I made myself immediately cut it as soon as I got back to my folks' so that I wouldn't decide to keep it as is.I used some of it to make a shopping bag for my SIL. One nice thing about going thrifting with family is that you immediately find out which fabrics they like most and that makes it much easier to know which fabric to use for their shopping bag.

On the way to the lake the boys and I were disappointed to see that another of the old wooden bridges (considered one-lane bridges by all us tourists, two lane by old-timer locals) is being replaced. W commented, on our way there as we drove over the bridge, on how going over the one-lane bridge is part of going to "the lake", that once you pass over you feel as though you are almost there. I feel as though passing over these old bridges, and waiting your turn to do so, is rather like taking a ferry to get to some of the Gulf Islands, it is a sign to Slow Down and enjoy the holiday. A reminder to get into "cottage" time (or island time on the islands). We are sad to see another one go, on our way home we drove over the new bridge as they had already closed off the old one during our week there. W took a photo through the window to remind himself of it.

Today we are puttering and getting some things done that need doing. But...I also made some time to sew just one more shopping bag. These things are addictive.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Handmade shopping bag

I've been wanting to make some shopping bags out of pillow cases for awhile now but haven't felt motivated to get to it. I decided I would today since I especially wanted to make one for a gift and I will be seeing the person I wanted to give it to in a few days. I drew up a pattern and tested it out on a plain old pillow case, it is meant to fit the case so that there is only a bit of cutting and a bit of sewing.I decided I better test it out on some thrifted fabric first before cutting into one of my 60s pillow cases. I have such a hard time cutting up vintage floral sheets and pillow cases, I'm getting quite a collection because I keep picking them up at thrift stores and then don't want to cut them. Even the time I made one into a skirt I did it in a way that required no cutting. ;-)

I love this fabric and thought it would make a fun shopping bag. My jar of thrifted bias tape seems to be missing in action since our move so I found some more at my most recent thrift store visit.This bit that was cut out to make the handles was folded and stitched into a little bag.

And it turned out just the way I had hoped. Now I'm hoping I have enough fabric left over to squeeze out another one just like it for myself. I'll have to find my bias tape though because I used almost the whole packet for just this one.

It is big enough to hold loads of groceries or library books or even thrifting finds. And the handles are long enough so that it can be worn as an emergency backpack if you find yourself about to go on an impromptu hike and really need to carry snack and water.
It all folds up into a little pouch so that it can fit into a purse or pocket so that there is no excuse to forget to take your own bag into the store with you. Maybe that's what I'll call it - the no excuse bag.
I'm going to be on the lookout for some little hooks to attach to the next ones I make so they can be hooked right onto a purse since I have a few family members who really do have a hard time remembering to bring the other bags I have made them into the store. Aren't I a pest?This was such a fun thing to make that I think I'll need to make a trip to the thrift store to find even more vintage pillow cases, I think I can convince myself to cut them up if it means less plastic shopping bags being used. ;-)